Information about birth

Year of birth:
1891
Place of birth:
Telangatuk East, Victoria, Australia

General information

Profession:
Labourer

Army information

Country:
Australia
Force:
Australian Imperial Force
Rank:
Lieutenant
Service number:
730
Enlistment date:
09/01/1915
Enlistment place:
Balmoral, Victoria, Australia
Units:
 —  Australian Infantry, 21st Bn. (Victoria)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
04/10/1917
Place of death:
Zonnebeke Lake, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
26

Memorial

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Panel: Bay 23 stone C

Distinctions and medals 3

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

Lieutenant Rigby Frank was the youngest son of Thomas and Martha Rigby and worked as labourer when he enlisted on the 9th January 1915 in the 21st Battalion AIF, part of the 6th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division.
He served in Egypt, Gallipoli and France before going to the 5th Officer’s Cadet Battalion in Trinity College Cambridge, UK. On 1st May 1917 he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant and joined his unit in France. He was promoted Lieutenant on 27th August 1917 when going to Belgium with the 21st Battalion AIF.

On the 4th of October 1917 the 2nd Australian Division participated in the Battle of Broodseinde, a phase in the Third Battle of Ypres. The 21st Battalion was part of the 6th Brigade, which attacked on the right of the divisional front. The 22nd Battalion would take the first objective, the red line. Once they had taken this line, the 24th would pass through the 22nd on the right and the 21st would do the same on the left. The Battalion assembled before the attack at the jumping-off positions in front of Tokio, but soon moved closer to the road leading to Tokio on account of German artillery fire on and around Albania. They made use of shell holes and old trench systems to form a line.

At 5.35 a.m. moments before the Battalion would attack, the German artillery, including minenwerfers, started shelling the jump-off line, causing heavy casualties. The Germans were about to attack themselves in the hope of recapturing Zonnebeke. The heavy shell fire was very destructive.

At 6 a.m. the British and Australian artillery opened fire on the German positions and the troops started to advance. The 22nd led off, followed by the 21st and 24th. Zonnebeke Lake was on the jumping-off line on the left. The three battalions had to storm the front over 3oo yards right of the lake. Once they had passed the lake the units on the left had to change direction to cover the ground allotted to them.

The German infantry was utterly surprised by the allied barrage. They were quickly dispersed, killed or taken prisoner by the advancing Australians. Docile Trench and De Knoet Farm fell without much opposition and the 22nd Battalion reached their objective by 6.50 a.m. On the right flank of the 24th Battalion the troops met resistance in Romulus Wood, but the Germans were eventually overpowered. At 7.30 a.m. the 21st and 24th moved up behind the protective barrage, reaching the second objective, the blue line at 8.10 a.m., where the dug in and prepared for eventual counterattacks. The 21st Battalion captured the hamlet of Broodseinde and consolidated a line on the Broodseinde Ridge.

During these events, Lieutenant Frank Rigby, age 26, was killed in action near Zonnebeke Lake. On the same day his brother John Samuel Thompson Rigby, also Lieutenant in the 21st Bn. AIF, was killed as well.

Their father wrote to the army in 1919 requesting that his two sons be buried alongside each other. Despite the best efforts of the army, who had agreed in writing to his request, as soon as the remains were found, neither of the brothers bodies were located and they remain missing until this day. Both brothers are commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Bay 23, stone C.

Connection to other soldiers 1

Files 1